Our first few days in London were a mix of excitement, nervousness, jet-lag, and pure bliss. I had a mental checklist of things I wanted to get done before the first weekend was over and quickly realized that things move at a much slower pace in the UK. Brian and I also wanted to take advantage of a few days of no work and really trying to soak in the city...we were so happy to finally be here with our kids in this busy world that is so very different from the only place they've lived.
We met with a relocation consultant, Nina, that showed us around our new town on Friday afternoon. The high street (or main street, as we would call it in America) is so charming. The red-brick buildings with interesting and varied designs immediately drew me in. Cute boutique shops, outdoor cafes, pharmacies, and bakeries that I'd never heard of lined the streets that were quietly bustling with residents. Another gorgeous day welcomed us as we walked around and oriented ourselves. As the English say, it was lovely. Very, very lovely.
On Saturday we were able to move into our flat, met our friendly porter, bought some groceries and ate lunch at a cafe on the high street. On Sunday, Brian and Tessa weren't feeling well, so they stayed home to rest while the rest of us braved this new system of transportation in order to make it to church on time for its 9 AM start. We made it by 9:40, but we lucked out because it ended up being a special broadcast from Elder Holland that started at 10, so we were more than punctual after all.
After church, and when Brian was feeling better, we got out to explore some more. We walked to Buckingham Palace (wish I had recorded Taylor's reaction to it), which the kids loved. Then, we kept on going until we saw Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, the Thames River and Big Ben. We have been feeling so lucky to live in a place that offers so much to do and see and learn. It just never gets boring!
We have decided that buses, although slower, are our favorite way to maneuver the city. Every ride is like a tour if you look out of your windows! If we are going to be on for a while, Tessa will run up to the top and get as close to the front as possible. She loves the double-decker buses. But, she absolutely despises walking...which we do a lot of. Her stroller is our new best friend.
Taylor in the park across the street (above) and the super old cemetery (below) at the same park
On Sunday night, we had our very first guest come to our new home...Elle! We had been talking for a few weeks about this new visitor/sister, who quickly became a part of our family. Elle made our first month in London so much better! And, our girls absolutely adore her. (Elle is a family friend that we met through her mom's amazing blog www.71toes.blogspot.com. Check it out if you have the time!)
On Monday, we explored Kensington Gardens and Palace with Elle before she started her London internship with a local architectural firm. The gardens were beautiful (but cold!) and we covered a lot of ground on our feet. We loved seeing all of the beautiful dresses that different royalty have worn through the years, as well as seeing the inside of Kensington and learning more about the royal family. Afterwards, we met Brian for a family dinner in Notting Hill at a favorite restaurant.
I took Elle and the girls for a GNO at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre for "Peter Pan" and it was one of the coolest things we've done. The theater is exactly what is says it is...open, and surrounded by trees in the middle of a massive public park. The play was sooo good too- it was a completely new British take on the familiar story and it was so charming and patriotic. I was enthralled with the costumes and creative sets as well as the totally believable puppetry. Its so nice to get out and spend time with my girls. What a fun night!
This was at a fair (or fayre, if you're English) that was on our street the first weekend we moved in.
The next couple of weeks have been busy sorting things like bank accounts, cell phone service, grocery delivery, and TV/internet. We've also tried to get out and do things as much as possible. The weather has been perfect most days, so its hard to justify sitting at home checking off a to-do list. We got a membership to the London Zoo, which is a 10 minute walk from our house. We have been 3 times and love it because you can get so close to all of the animals- they have a petting zoo with goats and sheep, which the girls love to ride on (no, its not allowed). Tessa begs to take the tiny goats home with us each time we go. She also loves to see the pigs, due to her recent obsession with Peppa Pig (good timing, right!?).
We've gone to several different playgrounds too, most of which are in Regents Park- literally across the street from our block. We also went to the Natural History Museum a couple of times, one time with some new friends from our ward who have been so nice and welcoming to our family. They also have 4 kids (3 girls!), so we instantly got along. We are so sad they are moving in a couple of weeks to Abu Dhabi.
We met Daddy and Elle at Covent Garden one night for a dinner at a delicious Italian outdoor cafe right off the main square. There are several street performers, and one came along that picked Lauren to be his helper. His act was about 20 minutes long and she assisted him the entire time! It was hilarious and totally awesome. She was perfect- took her role very seriously and even "let loose" a little when he asked her to dance in front of the large audience that had gathered to watch. It was definitely a highlight of our month here to watch her shine (and get so nervous) in front of hundreds of people. As a reward, the performer gave her 5 pounds, which she wanted to spend immediately! On the way home, we walked through Trafalgar Square and caught a bus home through Regents Street, Oxford Street, and Piccadilly Circus- a true tour of some of the best parts of our city.
Seriously one of the best memories of our move...such a fun experience for all of us.